Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Richard Strauss: Notturno

Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.

Bernarda Fink Sings Mahler Lieder

Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Amore e Tormento

Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’ 

Rivals—Arias for Farinelli & Co.

In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi. 

Verdi at the Old MET

With celebrations of the Verdi Bicentennial in full swing, there have been many grumblings about the precarious state of Verdi singing in the world’s major opera houses today.

Italo Montemezzi: L’amore dei tre re

In the thirty-five years immediately following its American première at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, Italo Montemezzi’s ‘Tragic Poem in Three Acts’ L’amore dei tre re was performed in New York on sixty-six occasions. 

Così fan tutte from DG

Few operas inspire the kind of competing affection and controversy that have surrounded Mozart’s Così fan tutte almost since its first performance in Vienna in 1790. 

Heart’s Delight: The Songs of Richard Tauber

During his career in film, opera, and operetta, Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948) enjoyed the sort of global fame that eludes all but the tiniest handful of ‘serious’ singers today.

Adriana Lecouvreur from Decca

Known principally for its two concert show-pieces for the leading lady, the success of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur relies upon finding a soprano willing to take on, and able to pull off, the eponymous role.

Lawrence Brownlee’s Spiritual Sketches

It would be condescending and perhaps even offensive to suggest that singing traditional Spirituals is a rite a passage for artists of color, but the musical heritage of the United States has been greatly enriched by the performances and recordings of Spirituals by important artists such as Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Martina Arroyo, Shirley Verrett, Grace Bumbry, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Florence Quivar, Kathleen Battle, Harolyn Blackwell, and Denyce Graves.

Great Wagner Conductors from DG

As a companion to their excellent Great Wagner Singers boxed set compiled and released in celebration of the Wagner Bicentennial, Deutsche Grammophon have also released Great Wagner Conductors, a selection of orchestral music conducted by five of the most iconic Wagnerian conductors of the Twentieth Century, extracted from Deutsche Grammophon’s extensive archives.

Great Wagner Singers from DG

There could be no greater gift to the Wagnerian celebrating the Master’s Bicentennial than this compilation from Deutsche Grammophon, aptly entitled Great Wagner Singers.

Adding Movie Magic to The Magic Flute

What better way for Masonic brothers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emmanuel Shikaneder to disseminate Masonic virtues, than through the most popular musical entertainment of their age, a happy ending folktale that features a dragon, enchanting flutes and bells, mixed-up parentage, and a beautiful young princess in distress?

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Steven Mercurio: Many Voices
12 Nov 2006

MERCURIO: Many Voices

Conductor Steven Mercurio appears to have made a highly favorable impression on singers in his career so far (some of the following info comes from his website, http://stevenmercurio.com/).

Steven Mercurio: Many Voices

Sumi Jo, Andrea Bocelli, Gino Quilico, Marcello Giordani, Ana Maria Martinez, Rolando Villazon, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Seven Mercurio (cond.)

Sony Classical 82876872272 [CD]

$14.97  Click to buy

Six of today’s best singers (if gentle OperaToday readers will gracefully acknowledge at least the enormous popularity of Andrea Bocelli) perform on the Sony Classical release of Mr. Mercurio’s compositions for voice and orchestra, Many Voices. Soprano Sumi Jo sings two of the 7 selections, with soprano Ana Maria Martinez taking the only other piece for female voice. Besides Bocelli, who wrote the texts for two pieces, two other fine tenors appear: Marcello Giordani and Rolando Villazon, who takes on the 20-minute plus “Serenade for Tenor and Orchestra.” Baritone Gino Quilico brings a darker hue to the remaining of the seven selections.

Whatever personal or professional qualities drew these singers to make their talents available to Mr. Mercurio cannot be evaluated; the music doesn't present much vocal challenge, except for a few moments of almost operatic rhetoric. Many of the compositions feel like efforts in the genre of “easy listening,” with little dynamic variation, a tendency to slower tempos, and string-heavy orchestrations. The aforementioned website describes Mercurio’s association with Gian Carlo Menotti, and his love and respect for Puccini - certainly understandable. However, his music feels like a much later generation of the style of those two more esteemed composers. The music especially has a trait of seeming melodic without actually developing any memorable melodic material.

The review copy provided no texts (or attributions for the authors). The opening piece, “A White Rose,” can serve as a good example of Mercurio’s taste. John Boyle O'Reilly’s short love poem is an almost too tasteful tribute to amorous yet romantic love. Mercurio sets it as if it were a Hallmark card sentiment, with the “blush” of erotic attraction a distant suggestion.

Whatever the quality of Bocelli’s text for “Desiderio,” it does inspire some more dramatic music form Mr. Mercurio, and Bocelli himself gives evidence of the attractive tone and pleasure in singing that have earned him so much popularity. Marcello Giordani sings another Bocelli text, “Paternita,” where Mercurio’s orchestration has more than a faint resemblance to Canteloube’s “Bolero” from Songs of the Auvergne.

Most of the selection are not much longer than a typical pop song, but the final track, “Serenade for tenor and orchestra,” goes on for over 20 minutes of neo-Straussian (Richard) waltzes, with lurches into unprovoked climaxes. Villazon sings handsomely but indicates that his English is not at the same level as other operatic languages he has mastered.

If just one number stayed with the listener, enticing frequent revisits, the opera world could be glad to have a composer who knows the value of melodicism and heartfelt emotion. It’s all well to respect the greatness of Puccini. Following in his footsteps, however, seems to mean staying forever in the master’s prodigious shadow. That’s where listeners will find Many Voices.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):